Thanks to California’s historic four-year drought, some specialists are now referring to frequent wildfires as a “new normal” for the state. For the past two years, Los Angeles-based photographer Stuart Palley has been chasing these flare-ups to capture their unusual beauty.
“The fires move fast and you need to get there on the first night of the fire to capture its most intense behavior,” Palley told Quartz. “Two years ago I left my own birthday party early to go photograph a fire.”
Taken with a long-exposure or under a starry night sky, the 27-year-old’s shots of flames and smoke engulfing hills, forests, roads and homes are hair-raisingly gorgeous.
Between Jan. 1, 2015 and Aug. 8, 2015, nearly 118,00 acres of land have burned in California—up from about 88,000 acres in the same period last year.